P for Polestar, P for PerformanceBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
We all know how safe and sexy a Volvo is. This time, we might as well add “spry and speedy” to the Swedish car brand’s list of endearing attributes.
Thanks to tuning and racing partner Polestar, a Volvo could now be “tweaked” to deliver higher specific power and torque outputs.
But like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the upgrade will all be done discreetly—in the engine control module software—with only a tiny sky-blue badge attached to the rear as the only indication of the upgrade.
“It was in the wee hours of the morning and as I was happily cruising with my (2009)Polestar-tuned Volvo S60 T6 (2012) along Daang Hari Road in Muntinlupa City, a loud rumbling souped-up (Japanese-made) sedan suddenly appeared behind me blaring his horn as well as blinking his lights. I was about to let him pass when I realized the driver was urging me to a short race. While I do not usually give in to such challenge, I felt piqued by his swaggering behavior. Considering I knew every straight and corner of this road and seeing it was empty, I agreed. I blew by him and left him behind. Surely he did not notice that tiny sky-blue badge behind my S60 T6,” said Harvey Angsanto, an avid collector of top-of-the line Volvo vehicles.
Viking Cars Inc. first executive vice president Roselyn Dimalanta explained that the Polestar upgrade will give a qualified Volvo model—current and even select past models—a noteworthy boost in acceleration while maintaining drivability and the factory warranty. “Although it’s likely most folks will always associate ‘safety’ with the name Volvo, the time will soon come that car buyers will also associate the word ‘performance’ to the brand,” Dimalanta added.
You should be familiar with Polestar, if you follow the European racing series. The company has been modifying and competing in Volvos since 1996, and today, it is now essentially an adopted racing arm of Volvo.
But while Polestar has developed all sorts of fire-breathing Volvos (for road racing competitions), the Polestar option that are available to the Philippine market involves improvement of engine power and torque via computer upgrade.
“There are no modifications to brakes or suspension. Furthermore, the engine upgrade comes strictly from reprogramming the car’s computer, as no parts are included save for a little blue identifying badge that’s affixed to the trunk lid,” Dimalanta said.
The Polestar upgrade is available for only P50,000, a price package that is relatively lower than the $1,295 and $1,495 offers available in the United States. “This upgrade, which comes with a badge and a product certificate coming from the Swedish headquarters to prove it, is likely to increase the resale value of the Volvo,” said Froilan Valencia, Viking Cars Inc. sales service division AVP.
Valencia added that the Polestar engine control module software upgrade only shows Volvo’s already solid components as well as advanced and reliable engineering.
“This fact alone makes a Volvo a perfect starting point for performance enhancements. When Polestar’s research and development team develops a new product, they consider the precise limits of what each and every component is designed to handle. Since a Volvo is a very strong and well-built car, one could safely get more out of it without risking negative side effects,” Valencia said.
The download to the car’s computer dials up the ignition timing as well as increase the airflow into the combustion chambers, enabling the horsepower to go up by several percent, depending on the model. For example, Harvey Angsantos’s 2009 2.5-liter, 230 horsepower C30 T5 hatch gains an additional 20 hp (an 8.7 percent improvement).
Even the torque is optimized, from the already hefty 300 Nm to 370 Nm.
Angsanto’s other Polestar equipped unit—an S60 T6—improved from its original 304 hp to 329 hp (an 8.2 percent improvement). The torque also increased: from 440 Nm to 480 Nm.
“The best part is that the increase in power doesn’t significantly affect fuel efficiency or even the exhaust emissions rating. And such factory-authorized tuning doesn’t void the warranty,” said Edwin Esmani, who also owns a Polestar-equipped C30 T5 and a Polestar-upgraded XC60 T6 (which boasts a horsepower improvement of 329 hp from 304 hp and torque improvement of 480 Nm from 440 Nm).
Both Esmani and Angsanto lauded Polestar for sticking with a typically subtle Volvo route for enhancing vehicles.
“Our cars may lack the obvious add-ons and overt aerodynamic excrescence of its competitors. While the performance improvements are all discreet, we appreciate the extra oomph should we decide to overtake or surprise others on the road,” Esmani said.
Angsanto agreed: “The engine has plenty of pulling power, from very low in the rev range, and it keeps pulling strongly. It has the ability to genuinely shove you into the back of your seat, which is not something usually associated with Volvos. I also love this car to push through the bends—it hangs on well and with that torque-rich engine, it launches out of the corners.”